Victims of coercive control are vulnerable, but. . .

Victims of coercive control are vulnerable, but not because they are weak, character-deficient, or mentally unwell.  They are vulnerable because they have been groomed.

The impact of the control on the victim is devastating. She exists in a constant state of fear that she has not moderated her behaviour sufficiently to avert catastrophe for herself and her children. Her fear is real and not imagined, as it is based on a realistic appraisal of the perpetrator’s capabilities. [Cassandra Wiener, Howard Journal of Crime and Justice]

These quotes are taken from Cassandra Wiener’s article Seeing What is ‘Invisible in Plain Sight’: Policing Coercive Control.  Entire article can be found when you click on the title.

And you can find these quotes and other great quotes on our Gems page.

Further Reading

Coercive Control, Safety Zones, and Search and Destroy Missions — insights from Evan Stark

Coercive Control:  a recommended three part series

Abuse Is a Pattern.’ Why These Nations Took the Lead in Criminalizing Controlling Behavior in Relationships – Time Magazine, June 21, 2019

11 thoughts on “Victims of coercive control are vulnerable, but. . .”

  1. The article is exceptional.

    … ‘abusive behaviour does not occur as a series of discrete events’ (p.1208). Instead, the wrong of abuse is enacted on the terrain of the relationship and it is the abuser’s strategic intent that provides the thread that connects and organises the acts.

    Each violent incident is, to many women, relatively unimportant in the context of the ‘state of siege’ (Dutton 1992, p.1208) imposed by their abuser. There is no ‘between’ episodes: while the violence might be sporadic, the fear it engenders is not….

    I look forward to finishing the content.
    Thank you for posting!

  2. Victims of coercive control are vulnerable … because they have been groomed.

    Yes! What a powerful way to say what it took me forever to see! It’s a truth so helpful and freeing. But it was incredibly hard for me to face, because it meant admitting that people I had loved and trusted had done the grooming.

  3. The poor victim living with coercion always has to be one step ahead of the abuser: If I do this, then he’ll react this and so.

    1. Yes, you are right Ruth. The abuser gets into our heads so we find ourselves constantly thinking what his reactions will be if we do such and such or fail to do so and so. And when it might be less unsafe to do it and when not. And whether it will be safe at all to do it.

  4. I really liked the linked article because it explains to victims why it is so hard for onlookers to decide that they are looking at actual abuse, and it explains to onlookers how innocuous coercive control may look from the outside, yet how much pain it causes. It really helped answer some of those questions – why is it so important for everyone to deny that my ‘experiences’ were abuse?

    Also, passed it to some friends who had suffered spiritual abuse and it helped them answer similar questions.

    1. Thanks MarkQ.
      Hopefully your comment will get more people to read the linked article.

      I often get the feeling that people just read the first paragraph or so of a post and don’t bother reading further, and especially they don’t bother clicking and reading a link within a post. Sigh. I must be old school.

  5. At the risk of sounding like a broken record…..

    The article was informative and well written.

    My grooming took place in my family of origin. Unless the interviewer included my pre-“marriage” history, the necessary information would be missed.

    The interviewer would have needed specialized training, as I had no understanding upon which to base my answers.

    I can see other areas in which I would have “fallen through the cracks.”

    I write, not for the reason of complaint, but to advocate determining how to discover the “misfits”. The police and judicial system, no matter how well trained or informed, haven’t the resources to pursue the myriad of permutations and combinations.

    Some sort of interface is needed, a way of redirecting individuals towards potential areas of assistance. The starting point may be different for each individual, taking into account how to integrate the systems.

    Independent monitoring would be required to prevent manipulation by abusers and their allies.

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